By Harry Kane
A new residential and commercial project at the edge of Somerville has been stalled because of concerns that the property under development is too close to the neighboring house.
The plan to rehabilitate the first three buildings in East Somerville at 2, 4 and 6-8 Broadway is a project that many want to see happen. However, the design must first be approved by the Somerville Planning Board.
The transit-oriented development sits on the line of Somerville and Boston, nearby the Sullivan Square Station. When the project is complete, the residents of the new units will receive free T passes, to attract non-car driving tenants and encourage use of public transportation, according to the present proposal by the planning staff. There is also talk of giving these residents some free access to Zip Cars.
The scope of the project involves rehabbing two of the buildings, maintaining the structures and building heights, and reconstructing the third house into a 4-story building that would include a parking area in the rear. The sticking point in this project is the proximity to the abutter’s home. The current design only has a 6.5 foot gap between the reconstructed apartment building and the concerned homeowners’ house.
Remo Avellani lives behind the proposed redevelopment and doesn’t like the idea of sharing such close quarters with his neighbors. Avellani expressed his concern about the safety of his house and his family in a prepared statement presented to the public Panning Board hearing on August 8. “I would like to see the building set back,” he said, regarding the third building. Avellani has lived on 8 Mount Pleasant St., which was built in 1841, since 1964.
Owner Marty Henry of the Mount Vernon Restaurant & Pub, located at 16 Broadway, said he was disappointed with the lack of transparency associated with the proposed development. According to Henry, there was no notice of a July 1 community meeting to discuss the project. “Something should have been sent out from the city,” he said. Henry looks forward to the development, but wants more information.
The lawyer who presented the project at the public hearing said the neighbors had been properly notified of the meeting. The applicant carried around some “600 different flyers” to the abutting properties. They also received emails from the Ward One Alderman. “We flyered the neighborhood like crazy,” said Adam Dash, attorney at law, who addressed the planning board with the design for the project.
Planning board member Michael A. Capuano, ESQ. said he liked the project, but thought it was inappropriate to build so close to the Avellanis’ home. “I don’t want to be completely negative,” he later said. “I want to congratulate the client on actually doing something with the property, it’s been terrible for years.”